Local public health officials say fears about the COVID-19 vaccine’s effects on reproductive health are keeping some people from getting the vaccine.
“We are seeing a pattern of misinformation concerning men and women of reproductive health ages and COVID vaccinations,” said Maranatha Hay, Grays Harbor County Public Health information officer.
On May 17, a public health nurse began asking all Family Planning clients who come into the clinic if they would like a COVID vaccination, following guidance from the Washington Department of Health to offer individuals a COVID vaccine during their visit in order to ensure accessibility for those unvaccinated.
“Out of the 36 women of reproductive health age, two women indicated they were fully vaccinated and were encouraged to share their experience with family and friends who were unvaccinated,” said Hay. “However, one woman related that her friends would not be getting the vaccine because they heard it causes infertility.”
Most of the remaining responses for not getting vaccinated had the same reasoning: they heard it causes infertility, they were afraid they would be unable to conceive, and that the vaccine had not been around long enough to trust that it would not impede ability to conceive when they desired to do so.
Several clients also indicated being scared of side effects.
“At least 80% indicated the above concerns as a reason to decline vaccination,” said Hay. “This tells me that young women, especially women who have not had children yet in Grays Harbor County, are very concerned about this,” said Hay.
She said what’s happening here in the county is also happening across the nation.
“This is misinformation that is widespread and catching fire throughout the country. There is no evidence at this time suggesting that the vaccines cause infertility, and there isn’t any reason to suspect that the vaccines could cause infertility.”
Women who are pregnant should also get the vaccine, said Hay, for their own health as well as the health of the child.
“We have also heard concerns that if you are pregnant you should not/are unable to receive the vaccine. This is not true,” she said.
“If you are pregnant, you should receive the vaccine. In fact, if you are pregnant or nursing, there are many reasons to get the vaccine. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to be hospitalized if they get COVID, and it also puts them at a higher risk of pre-term delivery.”
Hay referenced a Women’s Health magazine article she said shows supporting scientifically evidence based information which is endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the CDC: womenshealthmag.com/health/a35782633/covid-19-vaccine-infertility/.
Several weeks ago, public asked for community members in Grays Harbor County to fill out a vaccine hesitancy survey. There were a little more than 100 responses, not a lot, but enough to shed some light on local vaccination concerns.
When asked why they hadn’t received or scheduled a vaccination, 28.3% of the 120 respondents said it was because of their personal beliefs; 26.3% said it as due to safety or side effect concerns. About 17% said they were waiting, and about 16% said it was because they had trouble scheduling an appointment.
A few respondents, when asked how long they planned to wait, said anywhere from six months to five years to get an idea of long-term possible side effects.
When asked how sure respondents were about about their vaccination decision, 44.9% of 108 respondents said they were 100% sure. Only 7.5% said they were less than 25% sure.